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Minimizing costs by Automation of IT

We gave APG actionable recommendations to reduce maintenance costs and ultimately accelerate delivery of new features

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As a financial services provider, APG Group provides asset management, pension administration, pension communication, and employer services. The company administer more than 30% of all collective pensions in the Netherlands, and manages around €485 billion (as of September 2018) in assets.

APG’s motto, “Tomorrow is today,” conveys the message that APG works hard every day to ensure today’s and tomorrow’s pensions. It also reinforces the notion that a good investment strategy and sound pension management today form the basis for a good pension now and in the future. IT has a huge impact on the cost and quality of APG’s pensions administration. Automation of IT (IT for IT) is a key enabler for cost reduction and improved agility.

The Challenge

The APG IT department started a strategic initiative to reduce IT costs, speed up IT development and improve quality. A key contributor to this initiative is the DRDC solution (DevOps Ready Datacenter), which is part of the bigger IRIS program that automates infrastructure provisioning and application deployment for critical APG applications. This is also referred to as Software Defined Infrastructure. APG selected and seamlessly integrated technologies like ServiceNow, Python, Powershell, and Puppet for the IRIS program.

APG wanted to ensure:

  1. The DRDC solution was of high quality and could serve as a solid basis for further automation
  2. The right technologies had been selected SIG was asked to analyze the APG DRDC solution, and give advice on whether and where APG could improve.

How did SIG help APG?

SIG performed an in-depth review of the DRDC code, the configuration, the solution architecture, and the technology stack. In the review, SIG leveraged its software analysis tooling and expertise. The SIG team checked if the principles for sound software engineering were applied, since many companies do not yet see a Software Defined Infrastructure as software that must be maintainable and scalable. This resulted in an overall assessment of the solution against the ISO 25010 standard for software maintainability. As a final step, together with APG’s IRIS team, SIG identified both the strengths of the DRDC solution, as well as the areas needing improvement.

“SIG has provided expert advice on our DRDC solution linked to our strategy and business needs. Even though SIG wasn’t familiar with our solution, they were quick to start thanks to their excellent understanding of the SDI world. Also, a good relationship between SIG and my team ensured a pleasant and fruitful collaboration.”

– Jacques Berkhout, Manager Infrastructure Operations at APG ICT

The Results

SIG analysis showed that APG is on the right track and made “fit for purpose” technology choices. DRDC is solid basis for the future to manage their software at lower costs with an optimal speed of change. With IRIS, APG is a front- runner in this ‘Automation of IT’ domain.

The SIG assessment made clear for APG that IT for IT is similar to regular software engineering and is subject to similar principles. The assessment provided concrete and actionable recommendations to realize lower maintenance costs, fast extensions to the DRDC solution, and ultimately faster delivery of new features to the business stakeholders.

“From the start, we really focused on standards, object orientation, automatic controls and mutual QA. With time pressure, it is sometimes difficult to keep up with this. I am therefore very pleased with the result. We have gained very good insights from the SIG analysis. Several improvements have already been implemented, and some are still on the backlog to be picked up. As a result, the team is even more motivated to perform even better.”

– Robert Schrijnemakers, Solution Architect and Lead Developer at APG